They Laughed at the Old Cat Boat

A steady 10 knot breeze from the southwest 

Makes it an ideal day to sail. 

Across the lagoon, out into the bay, and 

To the ocean beyond, sails dot the seascape.

Large and small. New and old. Fiberglass and wood.

Sloops, ketches, yawls, schooners – even a cutter – 

On the horizon spinnakers billow like bridal bouquets.

Out among them, a leaky old wooden tub, its

Dirty yellow cotton sail struggling to pull it along,

Reefing points waving to those on shore. A

Grizzled old salt at the helm. A lad bailing the bilge.

Most were fairly far out when the wind 

Shifted to the nor’-east and began to blow.

Black clouds churning up seemingly out of nowhere,

Winds gusting to thirty knots. 

The largest of yachts,

With their foul-weather-gear-bedecked 

Professional crews, adjust quickly – 

Storm s’ils set, they plough their way in sprays of

Salt towards the harbor. 

Not so the smaller craft, whose spinnakers 

And genoas blew out into shreds like old rags, 

Hulls took on water, and boats

By the score swamped or sank, leaving 

Frightened bobbing bodies buoyed by life jackets. 

Seemingly unaffected, the old wooden cat boat

With its yellowing main sailed on, heading

Out to sea on close haul, wave after wave

Welcomed over her transom like old friends.

She has seen many a storm worse than this.

She is one with the sky, the currents, eddies, 

The waves, and the wind.

Oddly, the skippers of these boats were in 

Many ways like the very boats they captained.  

For some, goodness comes naturally, the 

Fruit of sound genes, balanced hormones,

Refined upbringing, and careful education.

They have the means to fit out the latest

Crafts with the latest gear. Some even have the

Means to hire the pros. They scoff at the sinking 

And swamped; shrug at the news of the drowned.

Their etiquette is refined; their behavior cultured,

Their interactions polite. They find it quite natural to

Avoid the tawdry seediness of the sinful.

For others, burdened with poor role models,

Neurochemical imbalances, improper nutrition;

Harnessed with addictions and perversions, goodness is a

Sisyphean task. All they can afford are

Small crafts unfit for high seas.

They try and fail only to fail again.

They keep tripping to sloughs of iniquity.

This is not the first storm to swamp them.

They are the least, the poor in spirit, the sinful ones that

The Anointed One comes to rescue.

One would expect Him to come in a rescue

Helicopter, or a Coast Guard cutter, a 

Muscular young man whose dress blues

Are the background for medals. 

But, alas, No. A grizzled old salt, 

He comes in a storm-tossed 

Leaky old cat boat, and one by one, 

With the help of a young lad,

Plucks survivors out of chaos.

1 April 2023


About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on April 1, 2023, in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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